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Excerpts from the travels of
Dr. Bernard S. Vander
(1917 - ????)

A collection of expeditions from the unpublished diaries and audio recordings of Dr. Bernard S. Vander.



Dr. Vander
Dr. Bernard S. Vander, BA, PhD, FLS

Born in Persia to Drs. Edward J. and Ilsa Vander on October 7th, 1917.

Dr. Vander spent his childhood in the Ubangi Congo, where he lived with his paternal grandfather. Here he gained an interest in the traditions and legends of the natives and first learned of the legend of the Mokele Mbembe.

At the age of 16, he attended Oxford University, where he graduated with honours in Anthropology. He continued his studies under Dr. Steinhausen, noted for his research into African tribal customs. Upon receiving his PhD, he accepted a position at Sorbonne. From here he began his early research into African rituals and led several expeditions into Africa for which he gained international acclamation.

In July of 1981, despite scepticism from colleagues, Dr. Vander returned to the Congo in search of the truth behind the legendary Mokele Mbembe. This was to be his last expedition.

In October of 1981, a privately funded expedition recovered diaries and recordings belonging to Dr. Vander. No clues to his disappearance were found.

Sus Salvanius

Region: Algeria / Africa
Tribe Studied: Ibakharu
Date of Original Recordings: February-April, 1952

Sus Salvanius (pygmy wild boar) are believed by the Ibakharu to have the ability to share their thoughts with the other boars in their band. This thought-sharing enables the boars to find each other and also warn each other of impending danger. The Ibakharu use this knowledge to track and hunt the boar. The thought-reader of the tribe reads the boar's thoughts and tells them to the tribe percussionists. Through the melodies and instruments they play, the percussionists speak to the hunters. In this manner, the hunters know the position of the boar at all times. It is only the boar who has learned to control his thoughts and deceive the thought-readers, who escapes the hunt.

The Ibakharu women dress as monkeys and prepare the feast. In addition to the boar's meat, the meal includes several types of berries and fruit as well as tree roots and sap.

It is interesting to note that the Ibakharu women are looked upon as inferior. Their only job in the tribe is food preparation and sexual gratification for the great hunters and warriors. Because they are considered to be inferior the Ibakharu have no need to remember or include the women in legends passed down through generations. For this reason, the women are never given names.

Sus Salvanius

the burning of the sweat
in my eyes
my heart pounding from in my chest
in the distance
the tribal rhythms
keep time to the chase
the wild boar

i fear for my life

the birds - the mean looking ones
know where i'll be
except for the incessant drums
the jungle stays silent
the footfalls closing in

i fear my life


the monkeys with no name
gather bananas for the feast

the fetish priest cries

Nakaw Naa

Region: Nigeria (near the Benue River) / Africa
Tribe Studied: Jhao
Date of Original Recordings: August-September, 1967

The following description is based on a weak translation of information told to us by the Jhao leader. In general, the natives do not openly share details of their rituals with outsiders, but through gifts and bribes we were able to get this somewhat sketchy explanation. The "bird" described herein is not believed to be a specific bird. To the best of our translation, we have determined that types of birds are not differentiated. The Jhao refer to this bird as Nakaw Naa, which simply translates as The White Hunt Bird. As we were not allowed to accompany the Jhao hunters, we can not be sure of this bird's actual genus or species.

The river flows throughout the jungle gathering secrets of the animals and the plants.

Nakaw Naa drinks water from the rapids, taking its secrets, and then flies around the jungle singing, passing these secrets on to all the other animals and plants.

Nakaw Naa is born white [ the river has secrets to tell ]. As long as Nakaw Naa continues to hear secrets from the river, it keeps its colour. When he is all colourful [ we see him as black ] there are no secrets left for the river to tell.

We have learned to listen for the whispers that the rapids speak to Nakaw Naa, revealing to us locations of the hunt and necessary plants. The secrets must be returned to Nakaw Naa before we may listen again.

The Jhao have developed a complex ritual to return the secrets. It includes very little speech and is performed almost entirely through the use of percussion. The Jhao believe that Nakaw Naa changes colour because of the stolen secrets they possess. They perform the ritual with increasing complexity each time as they try to fully return the secrets to Nakaw Naa, so it may regain its white colour. They know that if they do not return all the secrets Nakaw Naa will, eventually, turn black and die, leaving them in darkness and unable to hunt.

The Jhao leader explains the ritual to the young tribe members during the preparation of the ceremony.


On a return expedition to this area in August/September of 1974, Dr. Vander noted the following:

The Jhao no longer hunt live food, eating only plants and fruit, but still retain the ritual, in hopes that Nakaw Naa will return to allow them to hunt again.

Water samples of this area show an increase in acidity.

My previously recorded population of 87 has fallen to 33.

Nakaw Naa

... and the hunters went out
into the endless jungle to believe
hidden at the water's edge
listening for the fighting waters whisper
to that which is white and sings the songs of secrets

with these beliefs
the hunters learn the hunt

with these beliefs
the hunters hurt the hunted

to heal the darkness
the tribe must give
what was to be owned


at the water's edge
and listen for the fighting water's whisper ...


the darkness ...

Mokele Mbembe

Region: Congo (Zaire) / Africa
Date of Original Recordings: July-August, 1981
Route: Begin at Gombe Matadi, travel up the Congo River to Mossaka,
the Ubangi River to Dongo and then to Bomboma.

Dr. Vander is convinced of the existence of the Mokele Mbembe in the lost swamps of the Ubangi Congo.

What follows is an excerpt from the diary of Dr. Vander, which was the only thing found from this expedition. The whereabouts of Dr. Vander and those of his expedition members are unknown. This is his last known recorded expedition, which took him into the uncharted regions of the Ubangi Congo in search of his life's ambition, the Mokele Mbembe.

I have been asked to head up this expedition into the Congo because of my life's knowledge of the uncharted Ubangi. The reason: To find Dr. RedLinger and his expedition who set out into the Congo in search of maaloti, a plant known to be used by the Arualaba tribe for medicinal purposes. The plant is believed to have great potential in medical studies.

Upon my own initiative, I have chosen the team to search for Dr. RedLinger and to study the animals of this area. I believe that these animals somehow tie into the reported happenings. It is my firm belief that a tribe lives secretly in this area and it is my goal to find the truth behind the Mokele Mbembe.

Mokele Mbembe


We begin, our expedition led by the world renowned Anthropologist, Dr. Bernard S. Vander, into the heart of wild Likouala Region.
Gombe Matadi, and hot

A heard of Loxodonta africana throng in a cool mud bath escaping the heat.

Our motor disturbs a family of Osteolaemus, resting lazily on the bank's edge. They seek safety and advantage in the darkness of the river.

Although we can not see him, we hear The Voice of Africa, Aves haliaets vocifer, high in the boughs of treetops, waiting ...

This bird needs no introduction.

The Congolese tribesman, our guide, his name reminds me of nothing in Ainabo, savours the meat of an insect he has pulled from the river.

We observe Papio cynocephalus. The troop moves about feeding on bark and leaves, continuing their chorus of quiet grunts. One of the males keeps us under observation awaiting the single bark of a female.

they take care not to let the white man hear them talk in case they are put to work

As evening approaches, we wait expectantly for the mating calls of Hypsignatus monstrosous.

His eyes on us ... Varanus niloticus basks on a branch overhanging the water. His heavy breathes give away his camouflage, evidence that he may have just returned from a chase.

Perhaps nervous of our approach he edges towards the branches end.

A sudden double bark from the jungle startles niloticus. Instinctively he inflates ... His speed follows him into the water. A glimpse of his fading underbelly spots tell us that he is an old one, and perhaps not as fast as he used to be.

Without warning, from high in the boughs of treetops, " The Voice Of Africa ", plunges towards our boat. The motor does not scare him; no sound deters his hunger.

As the bird nears our boat our guide calms our fear, pointing to the water. Haliaets vocifer is quick and Protopterus aethiopicus screams his last breath.

Freed of our fear of Haliaets vocifer, we notice our guide, his name reminds me of nothing in Ainabo, desperately fleeing the river.

We become aware of the rhythms.

Replacing our fear - the drums grow louder ...

knowing the message of the Speaking Rhythms ...

as though he read some message in the rhythms of the drums the Congolese runs in fear
mambaso mokemme in chi

© 1990 young monkey